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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department Plans to Hire More Attorneys to Handle Clemency Cases

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s push to grant early release to federal prisoners has prompted the Justice Department to announce it’s drastically increasing the number of attorneys to handle the clemency, The Daily Caller reports. 

The Office of the Pardon Attorney is looking for 16 attorney advisors to help handle the clemency cases.

The hiring would more than double the agency’s staffing level, which currently has seven permanent attorneys.

The Justice Department has encouraged federal prisoners to petition for early release.

Under the initiative, announced in April 2014, federal prisoners who served at least a decade in prison for non-violent crimes are eligible.

Justice Department Suspends Assets Forfeiture Program for Local Police

frozen-cash2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A controversial program that allows local police to seize and keep cash and property from people who were never charged or convicted of a crime is ending, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Federal forfeiture policies were long considered unfair by defense attorneys because police were allowed to keep up to 80% of the assets they seized, even when no charges were filed, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department announced it’s suspending the program due to budget cuts.

“While we had hoped to minimize any adverse impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, the Department is deferring for the time being any equitable sharing payments from the Program,” M. Kendall Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section, wrote in a letter to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Some in the criminal justice community charged that police were pursuing cases because of profits.

“This is a significant deal,” said Lee McGrath, legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, in an interview with the Washington Post. “Local law enforcement responds to incentives. And it’s clear that one of the biggest incentives is the relative payout from federal versus state forfeiture. And this announcement by the DOJ changes the playing field for which law state and local [law enforcement] is going to prefer.”

Justice And Labor Departments Team Up to Crack Down on Employers with Unsafe Working Conditions

Justice-Department-DanangBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An average of 13 workers die on the job a day, often because of unsafe working conditions.

Now the Justice and Labor Departments are bolstering efforts to crack down on employers who put the lives and health of their workers at risk, Construction & Demolition Recycling reports. 

“On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.”

Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu added, “Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment. Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees.”

Both departments began meeting last year to team up to prosecute more cases of worker endangerment violations.

Was Uber’s Competitor Responsible for Data Breach? Justice Department Investigates

uberBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is investigating a 2014 data breach at Uber to determine whether its competitor, Lyft, or any of its employees were involved, Reuters reported. 

The probe is focused on a breach that led to 50,000 Uber drivers’ names and their license plates numbers being illegally downloaded.

Uber’s investigation revealed that Lyft’s technology chief, Chris Lambert, may have been involved because an internet addresses in the case can be traced to him.

Lambert’s attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said his client “had nothing to do” with the breach.

“Given that Uber apparently lost driver data, a law enforcement investigation is to be expected,” Ehrlich said. “And the benefit is that the culprit here is going to be identified – and that’s going to remove Chris’ name from any conversation about Uber’s data breach, as it should.”

Lyft said in a statement Friday that “we have not been contacted by the DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s office or any other state or federal government agency regarding any investigation.”

Ferguson Close to Reaching Deal with Justice Department to Force Changes in Police Department

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Officials in Ferguson, Mo., are close to reaching a deal with the Justice Department to overhaul the city’s Police Department and head off civil rights lawsuits, the New York Times reports. 

But there are challenges to closing the deal, which would require a federal police monitor and an influx of money to pay for it.

Since Ferguson is struggling financially, a tax increase may be necessary to afford the oversight and changes, and that would require approval from voters.

The agreement calls for new training for police and better record-keeping.

The pact between the two governments comes after a Justice Department report in March discovered that police often stop and arrest people without cause, and excessive force was almost exclusively against blacks, the New York Times wrote.

“We have made tremendous progress. We’re very close,” Mayor James Knowles III told the Times.

“We’re at a point where we have addressed any necessary issues, and assuming it is not cost prohibitive, we would like to move forward,” Mr. Knowles said.

Justice Department to Announce Civil Rights Investigation of Chicago Police Department

ChicagoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After a disturbing dash cam video surfaced of a white police officer fatally shooting a black teen 16 times, the Justice Department is planning to launch an investigation into the Chicago Police Department, USA Today reports. 

Citing an anonymous source familiar with the upcoming investigation, USA Today wrote that the announcement of a probe is expected very soon.

The department’s Civil Rights Division plans to investigate whether cops were responsible for a patter of biased policing.

The state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan, recently called for an investigation, despite initial resistance from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who originally called a federal probe “misguided.” He has since changed course.

“We will let the Department of Justice address what action they will or will not choose to take, but as was made clear last week, we welcome the engagement of the Department of Justice as we work to restore trust in our police department and improve our system of police accountability,” said Emanuel’s spokesman, Adam Collins.

   

Chicago Mayor Bluntly Denounces State AG’s Call for Civil Rights Investigation into PD

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired back Wednesday at Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s request for the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation into the police department.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the mayor called the request “misguided,” even as protesters demanded justice for several unarmed people killed or shot by Chicago police officers.

Emanuel noted there are numerous investigations by city and federal authorities into the death of Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot by police in October 2014, resulting in murder charges against Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

“Like everybody else, I await their conclusions. They are looking into this situation and all the aspects around it. An additional layer prior to the completion of this, in my view, would be misguided,” Emanuel said in a live, online interview conducted by Politico before an audience at the Willis Tower.

“They are doing a thorough job. Hitting the re-start button on a whole new investigation does not get you to the conclusion in an expedited fashion.”

Illinois Attorney General Asks DOJ to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses in Chicago PD

chicago_police_patchBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is urging the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department over a number of cases in which cops killed or injured unarmed citizens, the Washington Post reports. 

Protesters are still outraged by a police shooting that killed a 17-year-old last year.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Madigan listed several cases in which Chicago police officers shot unarmed citizens over the past few years.

Included in the list is the October 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, who was 17. The officer who pulled the trigger, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder last week, the same day a disturbing dash-cam video of the incident was released.

“The McDonald shooting is shocking, and it highlights serious questions about the historic, systemic use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse by CPD,” Madigan wrote.